Today we have a small cross-tasting of three Fijians of Berry Bros & Rudd. All are bottled at 46%, should come from the same 2001 batch and differ from one another by one year of ageing. For more on Berry’s, click here. More on Fiji can be found in the previous reviews and here.
Berry Bros & Rudd Fijian Rum 2001 9YO (46%): The most held back of todays rums. Fiji’s unique style is clearly recognisable but the rum is not as agressive as some other Fijians in the nose. There are weak esters, grilled pineapple as well as burnt rubber and plastic. Add to that a few foul mangos, honey and herbs. At the palate I can taste exotic fruits and medical herbs. The aromas of rubber and plastic are still there, but I would not describe them as burnt. Then we get honey and almond milk, as we can find it in some Rockleys. The finish is relatively short. Lasting impressions are plastic, honey, sweet almond milk and green peppers. For a Fiji, the rum is relatively clean if you know what I mean. A good start into the session!
Berry Bros & Rudd Fijian Rum 2001 10YO (46%): Immediately dirtier than its younger sibling. My first impressions are burnt plastic, citrus and fresh fruits. Then rubber and an inrush of bad fruits and vegetables. It’s almost like opening your fridge after a very long time. Especially the citrus is more pronounced than with the 9YO. Again, the rum does not taste quite as dirty as the nose suggests. I taste lots of exotic fruits such as guave and mango, citruses as well as plenty of fresh herbs. Then pineapple, esters, and the typical Fijian mouthfeel, a texture that is so generic for these rums. That’s what I associate with plastic but its flavour is relatively subtle. Honey can only be found in the background. The finish is relatively short and not very spectacular. At best, I can point out pineapples and plastic. A nice rum but for my liking it might be even dirtier.
Berry Bros & Rudd Fijian Rum 2001 11YO (46%): The nose is very similar to the 10YO but the aromas are a bit more articulated. The rum is still dirty but the extra year of ageing took away much of the agressivity of the middle child. This is a more elegent and mature rum. Additional aromas are a mix of herbs and honey. At the palate, this one has the most pronounced plastic aroma and the most balanced mix of (fresh) fruits and herbs. There aren’t that many “foul” flavours to be found in this one. Over time, the herbal character starts to take over a bit. There is definitely a medical site to this rum as it can be found with some Jamaicans after the fruity aromas start to vanish. Similarily, the finish is dominiated by herbal and medical notes. I like it quite a bit, it’s probably the best out of the bunch.
Three nice Fijians without a clear winner or loser. The 9YO and the 10YO are definitely closer together than the 11YO is with any of them, but the differences are not huge. However, it seems that the rum needed the full decade to get to the next level. Moreover, this small cross-tasting suggests that the rums are getting dirtier with time. It probably does not make much sense as I have no idea how the barrel should be able to influence this but I will keep that idea in mind for my next Fiji cross-tasting. My intuition even suggest the opposite, i.e. that rums should lose their dirty and rough spots over time as it is the case with many Caronis. Anyway, none of these are what I would call a very “dirty” Fijian but it should be clear that this rum style is still generally quite different from the majority of other rums out there.
Fiji is one of the few pot-still rums that don’t lose too many flavours with dilution which is a huge plus if you consider that many bottlers favour this practice to maximise profits. Another major advantage of Fiji is that it seems that many connoisseurs don’t have rums from the island on their radar (yet), meaning that Fijian rums are considerably cheaper than those from the more well known distilleries. They definitely don’t have to hide behind them in terms of quality. Yet, their style is very unique and I know quite a few people that have little or no use for these rums. That said, if you never had a Fijian before, try to get your hands on a sample before buying a whole bottle. Have a nice start to the week!
This time, I got my samples and the photos of the bottles from Jörn. Thanks a lot!